Conglomeration in the Global Digital Economy

by Fernando van der Vlist, Anne Helmond, Michael Dieter, and Esther Weltevrede

In: New Media & Society, 0(0). doi: 10.1177/14614448231223419.


‘Super apps’ are on the rise. This study explores the characteristics, origins, and manifestations of these apps worldwide, presenting the concept of ‘super-appification’ to describe processes of conglomeration in the global digital economy. Super apps aim to become deeply integrated into people’s everyday lives, capturing and monetising essential activities. By analysing 41 super apps, we identify four distinct types of ‘super-app constellations’, showcasing different patterns and dynamics of conglomeration: ‘Swiss-Army Knife’ apps that consolidate services in one app, ‘Family’ apps that expand through subsidiaries, and ‘Host’ and ‘Hub’-style apps that leverage external developers. This typology offers a comprehensive understanding of the conglomeration patterns underpinning the rise of super apps, involving corporate, development and international expansion strategies. Ultimately, super-appification represents an intensified form of ‘appification’, as these apps increasingly pervade and commodify various aspects of everyday life, such as payment, insurance, grocery delivery, mobility and travel, with significant sociopolitical implications.

Read more: (open access).


Typology of ‘super-app constellations’.
Global countries or regions of importance for super apps: super apps in each of these service categories most frequently target these countries or regions as ‘top’ markets.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are openly available in the Open Science Framework (OSF) at

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